0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 7 March 2011

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 7 March 2011

\r\n

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined. 

\r\n

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News. 

\r\n

Politics

\r\n

Labour-Green Coalition: According to the latest opinion poll, Labour is within touching distance of achieving the number of MSPs necessary to form a working Holyrood coalition with the Greens. The TNS-BMRB poll shows that in spite of falls in both Labour’s constituency and regional vote shares – the latter down eight points to its lowest level in a year – the SNP has not been the main beneficiary. (Herald page 1) 

\r\n

Scotland Bill: The SNP is to table a series of amendments to the Scotland Bill as it enters the Committee Stage in the House of Commons. The Bill, currently progressing through Westminster, proposes to devolve more tax-raising and borrowing powers to the Scottish Parliament. In the debate, MPs will discuss the non-financial aspects of the Bill, such as including the devolution of control over firearms, the Crown Estate and responsibility for coastguards. (Herald page 6) 

\r\n

Nick Clegg: The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader yesterday insisted Nick Clegg is not a liability in Scotland, as the party gears up for the Holyrood elections. Tavish Scott said the UK Lib Dem leader was given a tremendous reception at the Scottish party’s spring conference in Perth on Saturday. (Herald page 6, Courier page 11, Times page 18)   

\r\n

Economy

\r\n

Lossiemouth:  Hopes that RAF Lossiemouth may be saved have been raised as The Treasury is lobbying the Ministry of Defence not to create economically depressed “hot spots” as part of its planned closures. Ministers are concerned that the current review of all military bases could have a serious detrimental effect on some local economies. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 4) 

\r\n

Digital Scotland: A manifesto from IT trade group ScotlandIS last month suggested that the nation risked being left “in the dark ages” by failures in strategic thinking, provision of skills and the creation of an attractive investment environment. Entitled Enabling A Digital Scotland, the report quantified the potential economic gains in added GDP (£12 billion) and new businesses (1,000) of embracing digital technology over the next five years, and painted a “very worrying” picture “in a world where other small, traditionally inventive nations like Israel and Norway are leading the pace”.(Sunday Herald page 34) 

\r\n

Justice

\r\n

Scottish Police forces: Senior police chiefs have accused the Scottish Government of "misleading" the public over attempts to cut the number of police forces in Scotland. A scathing letter from the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (Acpos) to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill claims a consultation on reducing the current eight forces is skewed in favour of a single force. It raises concerns about the "accuracy, balance and objectivity" of the consultation document and challenges the government\\\’s estimated savings of around £200 million if the eight forces were merged into one. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

\r\n

Transport

\r\n

Fuel: A survey of readers by The Courier revealed that most drivers rely on their cars to get to and from work because there is no viable public transport alternative and that petrol price rises will cost them, on average, more than £500 extra a year. It also showed that most people lay the blame for the increase in fuel prices at the door of the UK Coalition Government, with most claiming politicians are out of touch with ordinary motorists, particularly those in rural communities who rely on their cars the most. (Courier page 1)

\r\n

A9 protests: Countryside campaigners angry at being barred from a historic route across the A9 in the Cairngorms are planning a series of protests that will blockade the road and delay motorists. Unless the government’s Transport Scotland digs a tunnel or builds a bridge at Crubenmore, just south of Newtonmore, people will be killed attempting to cross a new dual carriageway, they claim.  Walkers, cyclists and horse riders are demanding politicians commit to constructing a crossing in the next few weeks. (Sunday Herald page 4)

\r\n

Train frequency increased: Trains on the new Edinburgh-Glasgow line via Bathgate and Airdrie are to be doubled in frequency from today. The move comes as the latest step towards the delayed full service on the £370 million route. This was postponed when the line opened in December because of a shortage of trains due to faults with a new fleet. (Scotsman page 6)

\r\n

Education

\r\n

University elections: University principals could face direct elections to their posts in future, after the prospect was backed by Education Secretary Michael Russell. They could even be removed from office between elections, the minister said. Mr Russell yesterday faced claims that he was attempting to "remove" the principals from office after recent clashes over funding cuts. (Scotsman page 2, Courier page 1, Times page 12)

\r\n

Fast-track degrees: Students will be encouraged to ditch the first year of a four-year degree course in a cost-cutting measure being proposed by all three Scottish parties who oppose the introduction of tuition fees. The SNP, Labour and the Scottish Lib Dems are all examining plans to push students straight into the second year of a degree if they are deemed capable. Likely candidates are those with HND qualifications or pupils with outstanding Higher qualifications. (Sunday Times page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 5)

\r\n

Health

\r\n

NHS cuts: Almost 2,500 staff jobs have been shed by the NHS in Scotland in the past year, new figures show. A survey of Scotland\\\’s health boards by The Scotsman has revealed the extent of the reductions, with unions warning that budget cuts are already affecting patient care. Hundreds more jobs are expected to go before the end of the financial year on 31 March as health boards struggle to keep within financial limits. (Scotsman page 19)

\r\n

Heart disease: Landmark discoveries into genetic links to heart disease could lead to a new era of research and treatment for the condition, scientists believe. At least 17 previously unknown genetic variants have been identified that increase the risk of narrowed arteries and blood clots – the main cause of heart attacks and strokes. In Scotland, 3.3 per cent of the population is thought to have heart disease and in 2009-10 there were almost 11,500 heart attacks recorded. (Independent page 2, Scotsman page 14)